Traveling with a Mac

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‘Tis the season for traveling. Christmas, Chanukah, the Winter Solstice, doesn’t matter why you’re going from here to there, but chances are you’re doing some going. Chances are, you’re also taking along some form of mobile computing device, and for many of us, that means a laptop.

So what are some things to keep in mind when traveling with your trusty MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air?

✈ Battery life is good, but still short. Even the newer MacBook Air models can only go about 5-8 hours on a charge, less for the more power-hungry MacBook Pros. If you’re on a really long flight, especially if you’re watching movies or doing other high-disk-activity actions, you’re going to need a power solution. There are some battery bricks sold on online retailers that you can plug a regular plug into, but always double-check to make sure they’re safe with your country’s power specifications. Also check with your airline to see if they’re allowed on the plane – you’d be surprised.

Some planes also offer power, but it may not be through a standard type of outlet. Be sure to check with your airline to see what kind of adapter you’ll need.

✈ Portable isn’t always small. While a MacBook Air will easily slip into the seat pocket in front of you, that 2002 17″ MacBook Pro will definitely need to go under your seat or in the overhead.

✈ Even without moving parts, it’s still an Electronic Device according to the FAA. You will need to make sure your gear is turned off for takeoffs and landings. You’ll also need to make sure to remove it from your carry-on and place it in a bin to go through the security screening. This goes for iPads too, at least at many airports around the US.

✈ Bring power adapters. If you’re traveling internationally, you’re going to need a power adapter. Apple sells lots of different power supplies for different countries, or you can purchase compatible adapters at most electronics stores and online.

✈ Bring a USB charger. Portable Macs are famous for a lack of USB ports. You don’t want to use up a port just to charge a gizmo, so bring either a USB hub (self-powered or fully USB powered, but not “unpowered”), or a USB charger. There’s lots of chargers to choose from, some come with mats to kep your gear from moving around, others are just unconnected USB hubs that offer power, but that’s it.

✈ Get a case or sleeve. You spent a ton of cash on that shiny, aluminum portable. Spend a few more bucks and get a good case or sleeve to keep it in. Even in your carry-on, it’s going to get bumped around a little, and you really can’t get dents out of that unibody aluminum frame, no matter how hard you try.

Finally, if you want to be everyone’s friend while you travel, pick up a small, portable power-strip. I have one that turns a single power outlet into three, and has two additional USB ports for charging through. I have to tell you, when I plug that thing into an airport or coffee-shop wall outlet, I’m suddenly EVERYONE’S friend!

Of course, you can also take the train whenever possible. It takes longer, but there are outlets at most seats and you can stretch out more. Either way, travel smart, travel safe, and enjoy the holiday season!

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